DiscoverThe Strength Running PodcastThe Value of Challenges: Sally McRae on Seeking Out Adversity & Scary Goals
The Value of Challenges: Sally McRae on Seeking Out Adversity & Scary Goals

The Value of Challenges: Sally McRae on Seeking Out Adversity & Scary Goals

Update: 2024-05-30
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Sally McRae, a pro ultra runner known for her strength training, joins the Strength Running Podcast to discuss her philosophy on strength training and why she is so diligent in the gym. She emphasizes the importance of building a foundation of strength, highlighting that she has been strength training since she was a teenager. She also addresses common concerns about bulking up and getting injured, assuring listeners that strength training can actually help prevent injuries. Sally shares her weekly strength training routine, which includes gym sessions and mobility work at home. She also discusses her training for the Grand Slam, a series of four 200-mile races, and the importance of mental toughness in ultra-distance running. She shares a personal story about overcoming blisters during a 250-mile race, demonstrating her resilience and determination. Sally also discusses her upcoming race, the Western States 100, and her training with coach Jason Cooper. She emphasizes the importance of respecting her body's recovery after the Grand Slam and the need for a gradual training build-up. Sally concludes by sharing her social media handles and encouraging listeners to follow her journey.

Outlines

00:00:00
Introduction

This Chapter introduces the episode and its guest, Sally McRae, a pro ultra runner, author, speaker, podcaster, and strength and running coach. The episode dives into Sally's philosophy on strength training and her training for a 240-mile race.

00:00:24
Strength Training for Endurance Runners

This Chapter explores Sally's perspective on strength training for endurance runners. She emphasizes the importance of building a foundation of strength, highlighting her own experience with strength training since her teenage years. She addresses common concerns about bulking up and getting injured, assuring listeners that strength training can actually help prevent injuries. Sally shares her weekly strength training routine, which includes gym sessions and mobility work at home.

00:24:30
Training for 200-Mile Races

This Chapter delves into Sally's training for the Grand Slam, a series of four 200-mile races. She discusses the unique challenges of these distances and the importance of pacing, nutrition, and sleep. Sally shares her experience with the first race of the Grand Slam, Coconut 250, and how she overcame blisters and other obstacles. She emphasizes the importance of mental toughness and the ability to endure pain and discomfort.

00:52:56
Mental Toughness

This Chapter explores Sally's perspective on mental toughness and how it has developed over her career. She attributes her mental strength to her experiences with loss and her desire to make the most of her life. Sally emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and challenging oneself to overcome fears and limitations. She shares a story about coaching a woman who struggled to complete a marathon, highlighting the power of belief and the importance of surrounding oneself with supportive people.

01:04:12
Western States 100

This Chapter focuses on Sally's upcoming race, the Western States 100. She discusses her training with coach Jason Cooper and her approach to the race. Sally emphasizes the importance of respecting her body's recovery after the Grand Slam and the need for a gradual training build-up. She also shares her excitement about having her daughter pace her for a portion of the race.

Keywords

Sally McRae
Sally McRae is a professional ultra runner, author, speaker, podcaster, and strength and running coach. She is known for her impressive strength training regimen and her ability to endure extreme distances. She has won numerous ultra races, including the Badwater 135, the Tarawera 100, the Mozart 100, and the Moab 240. She is also a Nike athlete and the owner of Yellow Runner, a company that provides coaching and resources for runners.

Ultra Running
Ultra running is a form of long-distance running that involves distances longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). Ultra races can range from 50 kilometers (31 miles) to hundreds of miles. Ultra runners often face extreme conditions, such as heat, cold, and elevation changes. They require a high level of physical and mental endurance to complete these challenging events.

Strength Training
Strength training is a type of exercise that involves using resistance to build muscle mass and strength. It can be done with weights, resistance bands, or body weight. Strength training is important for runners because it can help improve running efficiency, reduce injury risk, and increase overall performance.

Mental Toughness
Mental toughness is the ability to persevere through challenges and setbacks. It is an essential quality for ultra runners, who often face difficult conditions and mental fatigue. Mental toughness can be developed through training, self-reflection, and positive self-talk.

Grand Slam
The Grand Slam is a series of four 200-mile ultra races that are held in different locations throughout the year. The races are known for their extreme distances and challenging terrain. Only a handful of runners have completed the Grand Slam.

Western States 100
The Western States 100 is a 100-mile ultra race that is held annually in California. It is considered one of the most prestigious and competitive ultra races in the world. The course is known for its challenging terrain, including over 18,000 feet of elevation gain.

Coconut 250
Coconut 250 is a 250-mile ultra race that is held annually in California. It is one of the four races that make up the Grand Slam.

Badwater 135
The Badwater 135 is a 135-mile ultra race that is held annually in Death Valley, California. It is known for its extreme heat and challenging terrain. It is considered one of the toughest ultra races in the world.

UTMB
The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is a 106-mile ultra race that is held annually in the French Alps. It is considered one of the most prestigious and competitive ultra races in the world. The course is known for its challenging terrain, including over 30,000 feet of elevation gain.

Q&A

  • What is Sally McRae's philosophy on strength training for endurance runners?

    Sally believes that strength training is essential for endurance runners, especially those who compete in ultra-distances. She emphasizes the importance of building a foundation of strength and addresses common concerns about bulking up and getting injured, assuring listeners that strength training can actually help prevent injuries.

  • How does Sally train for 200-mile races?

    Sally's training for 200-mile races involves a combination of long runs with heavy packs, power hiking workouts, and strength training. She emphasizes the importance of pacing, nutrition, and sleep, and shares her experience with the first race of the Grand Slam, Coconut 250, and how she overcame blisters and other obstacles.

  • What are some of Sally's mental toughness strategies?

    Sally believes that mental toughness is essential for ultra runners and can be developed through training, self-reflection, and positive self-talk. She emphasizes the importance of believing in oneself and choosing the difficult option, even when faced with pain and discomfort.

  • What is Sally's upcoming race and how is her training going?

    Sally is training for the Western States 100, a 100-mile ultra race in California. She is working with coach Jason Cooper and is excited about the opportunity to race this challenging course again. She emphasizes the importance of respecting her body's recovery after the Grand Slam and the need for a gradual training build-up.

  • How can listeners follow Sally's career?

    Listeners can follow Sally on Instagram (@YellowRunner) and YouTube. She also has a website, salamacray.com, where they can find links to her other social media platforms and resources.

Show Notes

Sally McRae is known worldwide for her mental fortitude and ability to push through extreme discomfort.

As a professional mountain and ultra runner for Nike, Sally is a two-time Top 10 Western States finisher, the Badwater 135 Champion, Tarawera 100 Champion, Mozart 100 Champion and Moab 240 Champion. Sally is also an author, podcast host, business owner, and a strength and running coach.

In this episode, Sally and I talk about:

  • The pros of using a treadmill for distance training
  • The whole body needs to be strong for endurance races, not just the muscles
  • How Sally structures strength training depending on the race season to build muscle and endurance
  • Mobility, stretching, and hip and glute work to combat the weakening effects of sedentary lifestyles
  • Training for 200-mile races, including eating and sleeping strategies, gear, and mental prep
  • The mental aspect of long distances can make or break a runner's performance
  • Power hiking and weight training for 200-mile ultra preparation
  • Mental muscles, believing in your potential, and focusing on the story you want to tell yourself
  • Sally's first experience with foot and heel blisters during the Cocodona 250
  • Training for the Western States Endurance Run

Listen to this episode to hear from one of the most hardcore and kindest runners you'll ever meet.

Links & Resources from the Show:

Thank you AG1!
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Thank you MOBO Board!
Invented by renowned physical therapist Jay Dicharry, MOBO helps you stabilize your stance with an innovative rocker board that’s set up on two fins. The design effectively forces you to drive your big toe into the board to improve your stability. I was pretty arrogant going into my first session on the MOBO Board. How hard can it be to balance, right? Well, I was humbled pretty quickly!

Even if you’re a good runner, better balance, stability, and proprioception is going to help you have a more powerful stride and prevent more running injuries. You’ll learn how to improve the efficiency of the kinetic chain from your hip to your big toe. Because as Jay likes to say, it’s not just how strong you are, but how well you use that strength.

I was recently at a weekend physical therapy workshop (lol I was the only running coach) and learned how important (and rare) this simple movement is. Save 10% with code STRENGTHRUN10 at checkout at moboboard.com.

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The Value of Challenges: Sally McRae on Seeking Out Adversity & Scary Goals

The Value of Challenges: Sally McRae on Seeking Out Adversity & Scary Goals